Thames Water hosepipe ban: water company lifts restrictions but urges customer caution

The restriction has been lifted after weeks of heavy rain but the water company warns customers “we’re not out of the woods yet”

Thames Water is ending its hosepipe ban imposed on millions of homes in the summer but is urging customers to continue ‘with caution’.

The ban was announced on 24 August after levels in its reservoirs were “much lower than usual”, prompting a ban to be declared across most of England. It came following the driest July for 50 years and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The company, which supplies 15 million people, thanked customers and businesses for their support in saving water, adding that demand for water reduced significantly during the ban, supporting supply and helping to keep taps flowing.

Now, the company has said that thanks to customer support and recent wet weather, restrictions on water use are no longer required.

River and reservoir levels have started to improve and Chief executive Sarah Bentley said “careful consideration” has gone into the decision to remove the ban.

Ms Bentley said Thames Water is “grateful” to its customers “for their support in saving water during the hosepipe ban.”

She added: “Small changes can make a huge difference when it comes to preserving water and we’re thankful to all our customers for their efforts. Careful consideration has gone into our decision to remove the ban. Despite the recent rain, we still need to protect our future water supply. We need more rain throughout winter to ensure our rivers and reservoirs are fully recharged, ready for spring and summer next year.”

Thames Water said storage levels are improving at many reservoirs across the region, including Farmoor, which supplies approximately 480,000 customers across Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Their water levels have returned to near-normal levels of 87%.

‘Not out of the woods yet’

Despite Thames Water lifting the hosepipe ban, Ms Bentley said that some sites in west London are still below average, which is why the company is “adopting a cautious approach and carefully monitoring water levels throughout autumn and winter.

She added: “Whilst storage levels have improved at many of our reservoirs, we’re not out of the woods yet.”

On Tuesday (22 November), the water company today sent customers a message stating: "We’re ending our hosepipe ban. We’re pleased to announce that the hosepipe ban is over for everyone across our region. Thank you so much for all your efforts to help save water.

“The wet weather throughout autumn has begun to make a real difference, following on from a year of below-average rain. In many places, the ground is becoming wet enough for water to sink down into the underground sources that feed local rivers. You’ve played a vital part by using water wisely – we’re really grateful for all you’ve done. We’re working hard to improve things, with our teams fixing around 1,000 leaks a week.”

The message added: “We still need more showers through the winter to continue filling underground sources and rivers, but our forecasts suggest that even 60% of normal winter rain will be enough to return to a healthy position. “If you’d like to carry on the good work and keep saving water, this really helps the environment because we can take less from rivers and boreholes. Thanks again for helping us remove the restrictions.”

Southern Water recently lifted its three-month-old hosepipe ban for millions of homes and gardens in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. However, South East Water, serving large parts of Kent and Sussex, said its ban, imposed on 12 August, would remain.

It is not yet clear whether South East Water will now follow Thames Water’s lead to lift the hosepipe ban early.